Eagle editorial: Shame for signing compact

04/23/2014 5:43 PM

08/08/2014 10:23 AM

The day after he signed a bill stripping public school teachers of their due-process rights, Gov. Sam Brownback quietly signed another bill that could endanger the health care of Kansas senior citizens. Is there no bad bill that he won’t sign? Does he not care what seniors think?

The health compact law gives the state control of all federal health care programs, subject to congressional approval, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It was an idea promoted by a conservative out-of-state group but opposed by senior groups and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

In a statement released the day after he signed the bill, Brownback claimed that the compact would restore and protect Medicare, criticizing cost savings that were part of the Affordable Care Act. He didn’t mention that those savings didn’t affect Medicare benefits, or that the GOP budget plan that the U.S. House recently approved not only keeps those savings in place but proposes privatizing Medicare in the future.

What’s most reckless about the compact law is that no one really knows how it would work. Would the prescription-drug benefits for seniors that are part of the ACA continue? Would seniors still be covered when they travel out of state? How would Kansas oversee such a large and complicated health program? Would there be the same delays in paying doctors and hospitals as there have been with KanCare, Brownback’s privatization of Medicaid?

Lawmakers approved the bill without knowing these answers, and now the governor has signed it.

How irresponsible. And shameful.

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee

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